Voices from the Beinecke Library

Listening to Paper

In her essay "Listening to Paper," Room 26 Student Assistant Charlotte Parker, Y13, considers the Archive. Read the full text at These Fifty States (issue 2), Listening to Paper.

An excerpt: "I fall in love with writers I have not yet read, and will never meet, for the promises their written voices make me. It happened in Room 26 with Robert Penn Warren (YCAL MSS 51). I reconstructed him from his letters, mostly, though I cheated once and listened to a recording of his resonant voice reading from All the King’s Men. I imagined him in his office at Louisiana State University, drinking bourbon while editing an essay on Faulkner in a stream of dusty afternoon light. He traveled to Rome and wrote poems for his children and made croquet dates with Cleanth Brooks (YCAL MSS 30). He sent comments on the short stories of Katherine Anne Porter (YCAL MSS 153) and she responded in kind, writing him hundreds of pages in literary and personal correspondence before she died in 1980. On the back of one envelope, 1979: “the last letters ever written by Katharine Anne Porter?”  

Listen to Robert Penn Warren recordings at the Library of Congress website: Robert Penn Warren: Online Resources

Image: Ice and Granite on Beinecke Plaza


February 20, 2013


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